It was perhaps a strange dinner party to organise. After all, when it comes to planning ethnic food it sort of helps to have at least a semblance of original ingredients available and that normally means a well-established immigrant community with a specialist food market to cater for them.
Well, Cardiff doesn’t have a vibrant Peruvian population, or, at least, if it does, they’ve managed to survive here without access to their most important ethnic cooking ingredient – the aji pepper.
Aji is the lifeblood of many Peruvian dishes (along with the potato which I’m happy to report at least you can find plenty of in Wales).
Nevertheless I soldiered on with an approximation of traditional Peruvian and Ecuadorean dishes retrieved from the memory of spending time there some, gulp, 13 years ago and a light dusting of Internet recipes.
The accidental beauty of not having a load of aji was that the food was a little under-spiced and so made perfect leftovers for the kids. For the adults I recommend some hot sauce!
Here’s the first of the dishes I made for the Peru/Ecuador feast. More to come in following posts
Nothing too complicated here – these are potato pancakes that I stuffed with haloumi cheese. Haloumi, I hear you ask? Since when did the Middle East enter into South American cooking? Well, Ecuador has a strong Lebanese population but even they’d balk at using haloumi instead of queso blanco. However, it was all I had.
1.5 pounds of potatoes, peeled, washed and quartered for easy boiling.
8 slices of haloumi (or one packet)
2 tablespoons of butter
First boil the potatoes until soft then drain, mash, cool, then refrigerate.
Shape the mash into silver dollar-sized pancakes. Make an indentation in the center with your thumb and place the haloumi slice in the middle. Add another thin layer of mashed potato and meld together to form a thin pancake.
Add a small amount of olive oil to a non-stick frying pan and saute the pancakes (four at at time) until golden on one side then flip and repeat.
When all are golden brown, serve.